Voice search is not new. In fact, the conversation around this type of technology has been ongoing for some time. The build-up and anticipation of ‘the year of voice search’ have been at every digital marketing expedition for the last 6 years, and yet there is relevance to its appearances time and time again.
Firstly, over the last few years, we have seen voice search become more accessible and easier to use. As we learned more about its capabilities, we have also learned more about the way people search. From the comfort of homes to driving in the car, voice search provides an insight into the behaviour of consumers which previously went under the radar.
It is faster, more convenient and helps make everyday habits simpler. From asking for directions, to checking the weather forecast, voice search continues to rise in popularity for its many uses.
How voice search changed shopping behaviour?
The free-flowing question and answer format we now experience with the likes of Alexa, Siri and Google Home, was a mere aspiration for voice search advocates. After huge strides in natural language processing, the interest in voice search began to peak to the point where we find ourselves today. Searches became more reliable and further trust was placed in the technology. So much that Google now reports 20% of its mobile queries use voice search. But what does the increase of voice search mean for consumer behaviour and how they shop online?
Unlike paid advertising which predominately provides images, descriptions, pricing, maps, phone numbers and everything else associated with visual adverts; voice search is stripped back to the basics using audible content alone. At present, paid marketing for retailers is limited on voice search, but that could, and likely will change as the landscape becomes more advanced and brands work out to better monopolise the technology to their advantage.
What retailers need to consider when planning for the future of voice search
Insights Planner, Darren Wright from Summit, says, “It very much fits with vision for “new retail” i.e. retailers behaving like publishers. It will be algorithms that decide which product to recommend or even add straight to your basket. This will obviously have a big impact on established big brands.”
“Only time will tell if it will also allow digital-only retailers to bridge some of the gaps to one of the major USPs of Bricks & Mortar i.e. being able to have a conversation.”
When it comes to getting your products discovered by customers, it is therefore essential that your feed management solution puts you in control of the way your products are seen, or in this case, heard. Customers will not search using language in the same way trading teams script them. The dialogue will be more conversational, longer and be more locally driven.
For example, in the instance of ‘near me’ searches, Google has reported 500% growth in the last few years. Uncoincidentally correlating with the rise of voice search.
Source: Google Trends, “Near me” searches over time 2014 – 2019
When it comes to searcher intent whilst using voice search, many complete queries from a point of convenience. Studies by Backlinko have shown that searching via voice search is 3.7 x faster than typing, catering to busy lifestyles and thirst for faster, quicker search results. In order to stay relevant, brands and retailers must think about their product offering, customer queries, and how they can help answer and where they are more likely to appear.
In the instance of a cleaning product company, the brand could create content that they know will want to be accessed at speed. For example; “Alexa, how do I get red wine out of jeans?” The retailer, keen to adopt a voice search strategy, could create useful content which helps answer the user’s query. This then ensures they are at the forefront of the user’s mind when it comes to their next household spillage, leading to becoming a staple brand in the customer’s household.
What does the future of voice search look like?
Although voice search has been relevant for some time, many retailers have not taken note on how best to create an action plan to support their business.
Data Scientist at Summit, Mike Thompson believes “the future of voice search and paid advertising will focus on upselling. For example, on Amazon if you go purchase a remote it would then ask, ‘would like to get batteries with this’ or ‘other customers also bought X with this.’
“We currently use the technology to ask it to do something, it does not sit in the room and start doing things by itself like play an advert. This is its opportunity to engage in as much conversation, or selling, as possible with you in these few short seconds.”
As a result, retailers must consider how they can best upsell on these types of opportunities. Consider Amazon’s ‘frequently bought together’ upsell option. Thinking how to best increase a customer’s average order value whilst they have their undivided attention is a strategy retailers should consider when creating content for their potential customers.
How can I ensure my feed is voice search ready?
At Productcaster we’ve worked with over 250 retailers to help them understand the current health of their feed. By using these insights, and with our support, they are able to optimise their feeds using FeedManager. This creates an opportunity to adopt new technologies, such as voice search, to maximise their performance.
Here are our top tips for optimising your feed:
- Understand the terminology your customers are using to increase the opportunity of appearing in voice search results e.g.
- Consider query length to tailor specific keywords and ads towards the user’s voice search query
- Partners you publish to – some more voice-enabled – GS actions in the future – the emphasis is not the same for every partner